We fixed more than 40 bugs in three weeks! The dark side is that most bug fixes are not juicy enough for writing a blog post… but there is always some interesting stuff to report.

Integration of installer self-update with SCC and SMT

The installer self-update feature integrates now with SUSE Customer Center (SCC) and Subscription Management Tool (SMT) servers. Until now, there were three different mechanisms to get the URL of the installer updates repository:

  • User defined (using the SelfUpdate boot option).
  • Using an AutoYaST profile.
  • The default one, specified in the control.xml which is shipped in the media.

Now YaST2 is able to ask for the repository URL to SCC/SMT servers. The details of how the URL is determined are documented in the repository.

Fixes and enhanced usability in dialogs with timeout

As you may know, it’s possible to install (open)SUSE in an automatic, even completely unattended, basis using AutoYaST. AutoYaST can be configured to display custom configuration dialogs to the user and wait for the reply a certain amount of time before automatically selecting the default options. Until now, the only way for the user to stop that countdown was to start editing some of the fields in the dialog.

We got a bug report because that functionality was not working exactly as expected in some cases so, in addition to fixing the problem, we decided to revamp the user interface a little bit to improve usability. Now there are more user interactions that are taken into account to stop the counter, specially we added a new “stop” button displaying the remaining seconds. You can see an example of the result below.

New layout for dialogs with timeout

Following, as usual, the Boy Scout Rule we also took the opportunity to add automated tests to make that part of YaST more robust for the future.

Automatically integrating add-on repositories during installation

Sometimes you want to extend the regular installation media by adding just a few extra packages or provide a number of fixed packages along with the media.

For this purpose, the installer can automatically register an add-on repository. All you have to do is to put the repository on the installation medium and to add a file /add_on_products.xml that points to this repository.

The file looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0"?>
<add_on_products xmlns="http://www.suse.com/1.0/yast2ns"
    <product_items config:type="list">
            <name>My Add-on</name>
            <priority config:type="integer">70</priority>
            <ask_user config:type="boolean">false</ask_user>
            <selected config:type="boolean">true</selected>
            <check_name config:type="boolean">false</check_name>

You can define the following elements:

  • <name> is the name of your repository
  • <url> points the the repository location; you’ll likely want to use the relurl scheme here that gives the location relative to the main installation repository
  • <priority> is the repository priority (lesser number means higher priority, the main installation repository has priority 99)
  • <ask_user>: should the user be asked about adding the repository?
  • <selected>: should the repository be automatically selected?
  • <check_name>: should the repository’s actual name be matched against the value of the <name> element?

You can of course list several repositories in this file.

If you’re too lazy to remember all this, mksusecd can do all this for you.

For example, if you have a set of new kernel packages you would like to use, do:

mksusecd --create new.iso --addon kernel-*.rpm --addon-name 'my kernel' sles12-sp2.iso

This creates a new iso based on sles12-sp2.iso that will install your new kernel packages instead.

Storage reimplementation: small steps for the code, giant leap for continuous integration

During bug squashing we managed to find some time to keep the storage stack reimplementation rolling… slow and steady. The customized Tumbleweed images (labeled as NewStorage) in the storage-ng OBS repository are already able to analyze most systems, creating a representation of the system storage devices in memory that will be used to manipulate the disks and propose a partitioning schema. Unfortunately, this representation is only visible in the YaST logs since fixing installer bugs was more urgent than representing that information in the UI.

This turned to be an important milestone, not because of the functionality itself or the value of the code (we just added a couple of lines of Ruby code), but because for the first time the dependencies in some packages were switched from libstorage to libstorage-ng. That had important implications for the code organization and for our continuous integration infrastructure, specially the Travis CI integration, which implies the generation of .deb packages. We can now say that our continuous delivery workflow (from Github to OBS, passing through Jenkins, Travis, Coveralls and Code Climate) is free of any trace of the old storage code.

In addition, we also did some good progress in LVM support in the new library, being able to recognize and manipulate in memory all kind of LVM structures.

The joy of openness: updating the SUSE Linux Enterprise documentation

An important part of our job, specially as a new release date approaches, is helping to shape the SUSE Linux Enterprise (SLE) documentation. One of the strongest points of SUSE products is the awesome SUSE’s documentation team which, as the rest of the company, have open source in their genes. Suggesting improvements and updates for the documentation is as straightforward as creating a pull request in the completely open documentation repository at Github… and anybody can do it!

The documentation team uses Docbook, but they would accept contributions in other formats (e.g. Markdown) and transform it themselves into Docbook… just because they are that cool. :smiley:

Better support for ARM systems using EFI

The world is getting full of cool ARM64 devices and both SUSE and openSUSE are actively working in supporting as many of them as possible. We took another small step during this sprint improving the installer’s partitioning proposal for ARM systems that use EFI.

That’s not all, folks

As we always say, this was just the small portion of the work done that we consider exciting enough to be part of our development reports, since we don’t want to bore you with details about every single fixed bug. During this installer bug-fixing phase, this is more true than ever and the next sprint, which is already planned, will be similar to this in that regard. Nevertheless, in the next report we expect to have some interesting news about the installer self-update functionality and about the LVM support in the new storage stack. Stay tuned.